The fewer said, the better

PUBLISHED: 12:51 01 September 2006 | UPDATED: 22:10 28 May 2010

Are Sainsbury s customers more erudite than the rest of the nation s shoppers? A decision forced on the company last week suggests they might be. Sainsbury s has agreed to replace the 10 items or less signs at its checkouts after customers complained th

Are Sainsbury's customers more erudite than the rest of the nation's shoppers?

A decision forced on the company last week suggests they might be.

Sainsbury's has agreed to replace the '10 items or less' signs at its checkouts after customers complained that the wording was grammatically incorrect.

To be correct the sign should, of course, state '10 items or fewer'.

I have no idea how many customers complained. I guess it must have been quite a few for the company to spend money making changes in more than 400 stores.

So, well done Sainsbury's shoppers and well done Sainsbury's.

Perhaps shoppers and all businesses should take heed of what can be achieved by people refusing to tolerate what is incorrect.

I suggest we start a zero-tolerance campaign and complain to managers in our shops, offices and garages every time we see signs or advertisements riding roughshod over the rules of the English language.

We should extend that campaign to television and radio, not forgetting newspaper editors.

If the public really took to heart what Sainsbury's customers have started it could strike a meaningful blow for those of us who believe that correct English matters.

Getting rid of rubbish is developing into a complex business.

Already Fenlanders separate their rubbish in to three separate wheelie bins to aid recycling. For many of us this is confusing enough. But it's going to get worse.

We learned a few weeks ago that 500,000 wheelie bins contain a secret electronic chip so people's habits can be monitored, and householders can be reprimanded, or worse, if they put the wrong rubbish in their bins.

My spies tell me none of these chips exist in Fenland. But we should be prepared for them all the same.

This week we hear of the latest step to push Britain up the worldwide recycling league table from its position of third from bottom - 'pay as you throw' charges, to be levied in proportion to the amount of non-recyclable waste we generate. The idea is that those who recycle most will pay the least.

The Government will empower councils to decide whether to levy these charges or not - an offer impossible to resist.

I don't suppose the diligent and co-operative recyclers among us would qualify for a council tax reduction.

Perhaps we should campaign for it. After all, persistence can pay off. Just ask Sainsbury's.

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